Singapore to get fourth mobile competitor

Alan Burkitt-Gray
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Australian group TPG to launch new mobile business in Singapore after winning spectrum in auction

Australian-owned TPG Telecom has emerged as a potentially strong fourth competitor in the Singapore wireless market, after it built up its stock of spectrum this week to a total of 70MHz, ready for a launch in 2018.

TPG, which also owns wholesale carrier AAPT, first moved into the highly competitive Singapore market in December 2016 with 20MHz of spectrum in the 900MHz band and 40MHz in the 2.3GHz band. Now it has added a further 10MHz in the 2.5GHz band.

“TPG acquired all of the spectrum available at the auction” that was reserved for new entrants, said the company, which paid S$105 million (US $75 million) for the latest block of spectrum. “In addition to the cost of the spectrum, TPG anticipates incurring capital investment in the range of S$200 million to S$300 million to establish a mobile network with nationwide coverage by September 2018,” said the company.

TPG said it expects the fund the spectrum and the network rollout through its existing debt facilities and from cash generated by its Australian operations.

The company added: “The company expects to start delivering services to customers in 2018 and forecasts that it will become EBITDA positive when it reaches a market share of between 5% and 6% which it believes should be achievable within a short period of time due to the excellent value of the offerings that it will bring to the market.”

Singtel was the biggest bidder in the spectrum auction, paying S$564 million (US $402 million) for the maximum 75MHz that it was allowed under the government’s terms. Starhub bought 60MHz for S$350 million (US $250 million) and M1 bought 30MHz for S$208 million (US $148 million).

The Singapore government’s Info-communications Media Development Authority (IMDA) raised a total of S$1.15 billion (US $821 million) for the 175MHz of spectrum that was on offer.

According to the ratings agency Fitch, TPG will compete on price by offering bundles of fixed and mobile services, using capacity leased from the country’s national fibre network. TPG is also expected to bit in Australia’s forthcoming spectrum auction, while may see a fourth company enter a market to compete against Telstra, Singtel’s Optus and Vodafone/CK Hutchison’s joint venture.